Summer 2011

Roles You Play

Project Manager, Team Leader, and Team Coordinator Roles

You visualize the project in its ideal end form. While others may view the project from the limited perspective of their particular contribution and function, the PM Team must transcend a narrow focus and view the project as a whole.

Expert Estimator
You have to estimate the scope of the project and develop a realistic sense of what we can get done, and when. PM Teams set the expectations for the client and for the Design Teams — expectations that are the basis for resource allocation and planning. Poor estimations guarantee frustration; good estimations guarantee happy Clients and Design Teams.

You have to be able to communicate not only with your PM Team, but the other teams, as well. In professional contexts, there are also senior management stakeholders to consider.
You are the leader who must be enthusiastically engaged in the project and be able to help foster enthusiasm and confidence in others.
You have to let your team and other teams know that you’ll go to bat for them in tough times.

Project Team-Member Roles & Collaboration

When we discuss your roles as writers, we usually talk about them in relation to your audience: you write as a student, as a member of a community (or outside of a community), as a freelance writer, as a colleague, etc. On your Project Teams, you’ll have a role — or multiple roles — within your team that defines your participation in the larger project: writer, designer, editor, proofreader, coder, tester, presenter, researcher, or image manipulator. In each case, your roles are defined in the context of professional, collaborative protocols.

Professional & Collaborative Protocols for Project Team Individual Members
Projects are only as strong as their weakest member. Therefore, it is important for every person working on the team to feel ownership of the whole project and to feel the value of contributing to its ultimate success.

Maintain & Express Professional Enthusiasm
One of your main responsibilities as a Project Team member is to develop and sustain a tone of professional enthusiasm for your colleagues’ work, for our materials, and for our project. This can be difficult when juggling competing demands and working on a project that evolves in different directions; difficult, but necessary.

Be Actively Involved
Avoid the temptation to sit back and let the rest of the team carry you through the project. You have a professional obligation to be enthusiastic about the project and its materials, and your active participation will benefit both you and the project.

Ask questions & express opinions
If you don’t understand an issue or have reservations about an aspect of the project, speak up. For a team to work well, every member must understand and agree with the project’s goals and methodology. During the planning stages and every step along the way after that, make it your responsibility to listen carefully, respect other opinions, and offer your own suggestions.

Remain open to other ideas
Everyone has different ideas about how a project should look and how it should get done. The beauty of collaboration is that these ideas encourage people to see various approaches and allow us to find creative solutions to problems.

Help to defer “premature consensus”
Practice deferring premature consensus (“groupthink”). Collaborators need the opportunity to pose alternatives and voice explicit disagreements about the both content and rhetorical elements of the project.

Be patient & practice empathy
As in any project where more than one person is involved, the frustration level can get high. Remember that people move at different speeds and think differently — practice empathy and care in your collaborations.

Articulate problems
If you find you have a problem related to the schedule, information flow, or personalities, speak up and let your Team Leader know before the problems become unmanageable.

Adapted from: Woolever, Kristin. Writing for the Technical Professions. 3rd ed. Longman: New York, 2004.

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